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2. What's in a Name?

The words we use to describe each of these animals are different, but they actually mean the same thing in different languages. "Crocodile" is derived from the ancient Greek word "crocodilos," which translated means "lizard," or more precisely "lizard of the Nile." The Romans called them crocodeilos, a word roughly translated to mean "pebble worms," which allegedly describes how Egyptian crocodiles would bask on the river banks. Alligator comes from the Spanish word "el largarto," meaning "the lizard." The name was bestowed upon the creature by early Spanish explorers who found them in the swamps of Florida.

naming differences between alligators and crocodiles

NNehring / Getty Images

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